If there is one thing you are thankful with technology, it is your beloved iPhone. Ever since it debuted in the market, it has brought a new meaning to your life. Then, the imitators followed. The market has since then been flooded by Android smartphones but nothing still beats the innovator. iPhone almost always set the pace and everyone else mostly followed. Smart technology reinvented the way we live our lives. Can you still remember the last time you never panicked that you left your iPhone at home when you get to school or work? Probably a lifetime ago, right?
While you can’t help but adore that tiny piece of metal that probably holds all your life secrets, it is wreaking havoc to your health by leaving you sleep deprived almost every night. All the apps and social media in it is enough to keep you awake 24/7 and leave you still wanting for more. That’s how powerful an iPhone is. It has made us slaves of these gadgets rather than us owning them. But can you really help it if your phone seems to be calling you every single time a notification comes in? Probably not. It’s got us hooked like drugs to our system.
The iPhone has changed us in a fundamental way. Smartphones have been described as the culprit responsible for wrecking attention spans, disturbing sleep patterns and affecting eyesights. As part of our week-long coverage of the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, we consult with three experts to help us disentangle fact from fiction when it comes to how the iPhone has affected our brain, our sleep and our eyesight.
WIRED talks to University of Oxford sleep researcher Russell Foster, who has co-authored the book Sleep, a very short introduction.
WIRED: There have been many headlines about how smartphones are affecting our sleep. What’s your opinion?
Russell Foster: The problem with smartphones is that they represent an additional delay to sleep onset. Now the group most vulnerable to this are teenagers, of course. They are biologically predisposed to go to bed late and to get up late. But that’s been hugely exaggerated over the past ten years because of the use of the internet, texting and emailing. It is sort of a compulsion, almost an addiction. And that seems to be delaying further sleep onset. It’s a sort of biological predisposition that has been enormously exaggerated. On a school night many kids are getting less than six hours every night and it’s been estimated that for full cognitive performance in teenagers at that age you need about nine hours of sleep. What happens with delayed sleep onset is that their performance in schools in the morning is particularly bad. They’re chronically tired.
The blue light in itself emitted by iPhones and other similar smart gadgets can leave you wide awake at night even though it is already past your bedtime. It messes up your natural body clock or circadian rhythm. Younger kids suffer more than adults knowing their increased sleeping requirements to meet their growing needs. The brain actually perceives blue light as daylight making it more difficult for the brain to drift off to sleep leaving you tossing and turning for a few more hours before you succumb to sleep.
I knew that smartphone use was associated with sleeping problems. What I didn’t know was that heavy smartphone users were more likely to have high levels of anxiety and depression.
Getting off the bus, I started wondering why we were so addicted to our devices. As I walked towards my office, I continued my search. It seemed that in the past few years, psychologists have come up with some explanations. The most well-known is the fear of missing out, or Fomo. We keep looking at our phones to be sure we don’t miss out on something which is happening – whether that is an important message or just a piece of incoming news.
As I waited for the lift, I came across two other explanations for our dependency. One was that people just love to touch their phones. Indeed, psychologists have found that people who have very high need for human contact were likely to be even more addicted to their phones. Those with high levels of social anxiety were also more likely to develop a dependency. The socially anxious are people who worry about social interactions and tend to avoid them if possible – and smartphones give them the ideal way of avoiding an encounter they could find disturbing.
We’ve talked about the body clock, right? Just how does smartphone use mess it up? It all has to do with the suppression of melatonin production. This hormone regulates the circadian rhythm and sleep timing. As night time falls, the body produces more melatonin in anticipation of sleep. However, overexposure to blue light prevents the body from producing more melatonin that can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night. And imagine exposing yourself to lots and lots of blue light on a daily basis. It tweaks your body’s sleeping habits and can even reduce hours on the REM phase of sleep, which is actually the most restorative phase of slumber.
As technology progressed, we prefer living in our virtual worlds rather than in real life. We took comfort in the numbers of friends, followers, likes, and shares we get on social media and mistake it for acceptance and friendship. And we can fake our posts too depending on what we want to show to the public. It’s the benefit smart gadgets like an iPhone has given us all this time.
Unfortunately, our health suffers as we continue to stroke our ego and give in to our little whims. Worse, it puts us at higher risk of certain diseases if we don’t already have it. Sleep apnea is a common complaint shared by many. And since most people would rather deal with it on their own no matter how deadly it is, sleep disorders like this one often go untreated. But knowing the risks of sleep apnea, it’s better to see the doctor and try those handy anti-snoring mouthpieces than nothing at all. Either of this two https://snoringmouthpiecereview.org/good-morning-snore-solution or https://snoringmouthpiecereview.org/sleeptight is an excellent choice to help you manage sleep apnea before it kills you.
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